Sensing as an inferior function-
Hey everybody. This is the second post in a series dedicated to teaching random aspects of MBTI.
If you didn't see the first post I would recommend it as it's a largely overlooked part of MBTI.
Before I begin I would like to note that I understand people have many varying opinions on the MBTI and it's aspects. Stereotypes, how functions display, and which model of the MBTI is valid. I am in no way attempting to argue what is wrong or right. My goal in these posts is to display MBTI information in a way recognized by the Myers Briggs foundation as a certified MBTI practitioner and educator. My hope is to present the information in a way most people will be able to understand.
So before we can discuss sensing as an inferior function we need to cover the basics of intuition and sensing.
In MBTI this dichotomy is one that is often argued over regarding how it works, rarity of it and even elitism within each preference.
That said sensing and intuition are actually quite simple. Sensing focuses more so on the present and information that is written in stone, concrete. A person with a preference for sensing is going to enjoy living in the moment and indulging in actions that stimulate that physical senses. If something appeals to their sense of sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch those who prefer sensing are going to more likely focus on it; these things will be a source of energy to sensors.
People who are innately intuitive will find energy from ideas and noticing connections in the world around them. Intuitive people often focus on concepts that are more abstract than realistic. By not focusing their attention on the physical world around them it is possible and often likely that intuitives will be able predict how certain events might play out. Intuitives notice the underlying causes behind events and are often able to subconsciously relate those previously experienced events to new ones.
In very short summary, Sensors prefer to be grounded and realistic while intuitives prefer to look ahead and at the abstract.
Let's take a look at the four different forms of intuition and sensing.
Se- Extroverted sensing focuses on the absolute present reality. Se is what interprets physical senses and the higher Se is in your functions stack the more likely you are going to be to not only engage in spontaneous activities but enjoy them as well. Experiencing the world for all it is is something that types with upper Se often appreciate.
Si- Si is a little more tricky than Se. Where as Se is engaged in the present Si is more so engaged in reality and what has already been experienced. If something holds concrete proof than a Si user is likely to place high value in it. This can be something as simple as having experienced a flavor they like so they will frequently choose that one over others all the way to valuing statistical evidence over a theory that may or may not work.
In short summary of those two, Se values the present while Si values reality and experience.
Ni-Intuition directed in takes stimulus from the external world and interprets it subjectively into subconscious patterns that are brought to the conscious without active effort.. To simplify this Ni begins to recognize experienced patterns in events and ideas and will frequently flash to the Ni user how an upcoming event might play out. This can appear odd to an outside observer and if the Ni dominant user has not developed an auxiliary judging function well or an auxiliary Ni user has not come to understand their intuition they might have trouble explaining or backing their insights.
Ne-Intuition focused outward often notices how things relate to one another as well as expresses how things could possibly progress in the future. While Ni focuses more so on probability Ne focuses on possibilities. When ideas come to strong Ne users they find energy in expressing these ideas to the world. When I say Ne is relational I mean it subconsciously recognizes overarching commonalities in ideas. Say a strong Ne user sees a butterfly. Their thought process might be “Butterfly-Colerful-Painting-Art.”….”I want to take an art class.” That one example is a bit out there of course but that is an example of how Ne might present itself.
To summarize, Ni focuses on subjective possibilities based on personally recognized experiences while Ne focuses on the relation and expression of ideas.
Now that we've covered the basics of the four perceiving functions let's talk about inferior sensing. The reason I'm only covering sensing is I don't want to drag out one lesson too long. I will do inferior intuition at some point.
So, if someone is of a type with auxiliary intuition they might have a general interest in possibilities and the future. That said it would not be their primary focus of energy. Using this same knowledge we know that by focusing only partial energy into intuition they are not fully repressing sensing, they are not pushing it back, they are only not using it actively. Sensing would be tertiary in this example. When intuition is the dominant function though sensing becomes repressed, forced into the unconscious as it is the complete opposite of intuition.
This is where issues can arise as sensing might be underused or brought to the conscious aggressively when a person falls into a grip state.
Before we talk about the repressed functions let's talk about the general traits of repressed sensing. When a persons energy focus is directed at ideas and the future they begin to ignore the present and their immediate surroundings. An intuitive dominant might be accidentally ignorant of their immediate surroundings in favor of focusing on ideas and possibilities.
To expand this I would like to share a story told to me by MBTI Master practitioner Elizabeth Murphy, author of the MMTIC, a MBTI test focused and centered towards children, as well as The Developing Child, who also happened to be my teacher in my MBTI certification class.
Her story is as follows,
“One day I was at a hotel and I had woken up and was preparing for a business meeting. I took a shower and when I got out I went to go dry my hair. The only problem was my hair dryer wasn't working. I immediately began to stress and worry about how I would make my hair appropriate for the meeting. I thought of different ways I could style my wet hair, I thought of attempting to dry it with the towel even though it might look rough, , I thought about how they might perceive me if I looked un professional. All of these thoughts came flooding to me and as I began to attempt to style my wet hair I looked down and realized… my hair dryer wasn't plugged in.”
This story is really a pure example of how repressed sensing might present itself in everyday life, not during a grip situation. People with inferior sensing immediately look to the future, to possibilities, to outcomes without any active effort. Their immediate surroundings become secondary to their thoughts and ideas.
Alright so let's get into for repressed Si vs Se.
Repressed Si is going to present itself as an ignorance of facts or details. Ne dominant types often view the details as something that hold them back from achieving or expressing their ideas. For example if a Ne dominant type said in a business meeting “We should invest in company A because they have been showing really unique designs and I think they are going to take off” another person might say “ Well while they might be promising their numbers don't show it right now. It would be a leap to invest in them”. This might cause major stress and annoyance in the Ne user because to them their intuition is telling them that this investment would pay out, even if there are no numbers to show it.
In times of extreme stress the Ne user might fall into a grip and allow their not preferred Si to take the lead. When this happens the untrained Si might present its ideas as having solid and concrete backing subjectively with no real ties in reality. They might KNOW something and to them it might be considered a fact, a part of reality, even though it isn't. It also might present itself as complete avoidance to being tied down in any way. A Ne user in a grip might switch from relationship to relationship, quit a job, switch houses or otherwise make major life decisions without thought in an effort to avoid what their current reality is, attempting to engage in what could be.
Repressed Se is a bit simpler than Si. Because Se is direct engagement in the physical senses the first thing to note is that Ni doms are going to ignore the present more than the Ne dom. Ni is focused so much on subjective interpretations that it will unintentionally space out. Unlike Murphy’s story which is closer to Ne, Ni is far more likely to lose track of their immediate surroundings. One might even say the Ni dom loses track of their object permanence when engaged in intuition. On a personal note as a Ni dom one of the most frustrating things to me is that as soon as a pen I'm using leaves my sight it is like it's gone forever. Doesn't matter if I had it a minute ago I completely lose track of where it was or where I put it.
When it comes to Ni doms falling into a Se grip they are going to overindulge in Se based activities. Ni doms are likely to binge eat, drink, and indulge in excessive amounts of physical activities like working out or physical pleasures like sex. They are pretty much choosing to ignore the future by temporarily over engaging in the present. On the other end of this spectrum a Ni dom might completely ignore Se. They might under eat or completely avoid living in the present in an attempt to focus on their Ni based perceptions.
All right that's all I have for this specific lesson. As always I offer the MBTI Step I or II as a professional service if interested in which case feel free to contact me by pm.
If you have any questions regarding this lesson feel free to ask.
-P.S. I typed this up on my phone while at work in the Word App. I'll further spell check it when I am home later.
I'll work on my next lesson which I haven't decided in the coming days.